On July 4th, 1863 a resident of Gettysburg emerged from his basement, profoundly aware of the carnage surrounding him, realizing that the Battle of Gettysburg might well be the turning point of the Civil War. He said to his neighbor, “Gettysburg will one day be a place of national pilgrimage.” He was right.
The word pilgrimage comes from the Latin word peregrinus, which means a person wandering the earth in exile, someone in search of a spiritual homeland–a place of meaning. The old saints thot of pilgrimage as a way of praying with your feet. You go on a pilgrimage because you know there’s something missing inside your soul, and the only way you can find it is to go to sacred place, places where God made himself known to others.
“In sacred places, something gets done to you that you’ve been unable to do for yourself.”
Thomas Merton was a strong believer in pilgrimages and the spirituality of place. He was drawn to sacred sites, not because he knew the places but because he believed the places knew him.
Over the last 10 years of hosting conferences in Gettysburg, I’ve always found Gettysburg to be one of these sacred places. Laurie and I look forward to our 3-4 trips each year and the privilege of sharing lessons of leadership from the bible and the battle with the men and women who join us there. We’ve been surprised how many experience the sacredness of the place and how the “storied geography” speaks to the heart.
It’s a place not only to study leadership, but also to experience “where great things were done for us (Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain).” If you haven’t been before, we’d love for you to join us.